Round two, no one loses

Posted by Susie Schaaf

We've got €3.095 million in the bank, all our players returned relatively unscathed (guess who didn't) and nobody lost a match in this round of World Cup qualifying. While I personally dislike the timing of this first international break, all things considered, it turned out rather well.

Franck Ribery was scintillating for France, assisting Les Bleus' first two goals (Capou, 50, and Jallet, 68) against Belarus, and knocking home the third himself (80). It's been a while since he walked off the field to a standing ovation playing for his country. France sit atop Group I, but Spain have only played one competitive match.

Xherdan Shaqiri was the other Bayern international to score, netting the opener in Lucerne (23) against the country of his birth, Albania. He declined to celebrate his goal, a la Podolski against Poland. Inler added to the score with a penalty (68), and the Swiss lead Group E with six points.

Antoliy Tymoshchuk's Ukraine looked to snatch three points from England in London, after leading at the half with a shot by Konoplyanka (39), but Roy Hodgson's Three Lions blushes were spared as Lampard struck a penalty three minutes from time. Ukraine are currently in fourth place with one point in Group H.

Arjen Robben appeared to suffer a groin strain (again?) late on against Hungary, but his replacement, Jeremain Lens, knocked in a brace (3 and 53) and assisted Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for the fourth Netherlands goal. They sit in second place in Group D, only behind Romania on goal difference. And take heart, Bayern supporters! Arjen's injury is not serious, and he may be able to face Mainz on Saturday.

Daniel van Buyten was riding the pine for 90 minutes in Belgium's match against Mario Mandzukic's Croatia. Mario played 87 minutes but failed to score. The lone Croatian goal belonged to Perisic (6), while the Belgians levelled in first-half injury time with a strike by Gillet (45). Both teams, along with Serbia, lie in first-place in Group A with four points.

Claudio Pizarro missed a penalty early in Peru's match against Argentina. Carlos Zambrano scored the opener for Peru (22), and only Higuain (37) could save a point for Argentina as the Peruvians kept good on their promise to mark Messi out of the match. Peru lie in a disappointing seventh place with seven points after seven matches (ha ha) in CONMEBOL qualifying.

With David Alaba watching in the stands, Austria took it to Germany in a tense, sloppy match at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna. Three of Germany's back four turned in less-than-average performances - only Holger Badstuber escapes blame - as Bayern and Germany captain Philipp Lahm picked up his second yellow card in two matches, garnering him his first professional suspension in his entire career.

Marco Reus opened the scoring (44) and Mesut Ozil netted a penalty (52) after Kavlak's foul on Muller in the box. Junuzovic pulled one back for the Austrians (57). Arnautovic produced a howler in front of an open goal on 87 minutes, and was again saved by Neuer in stoppage time to deny Austria a point they would have deserved. In truth, they deserved all three.

Manuel Neuer succinctly said: "We can be happy and satisfied with the points, but Lord knows we can't be happy with our performance. Austria's chances came from our mistakes."

I would say that the Marcel Schmelzer experiment at left back is over, except for the fact that Philipp Lahm is suspended. I wonder what sort of back four Jogi Low will come up with for the next round of qualifying. This Mannschaft needs answers. Now. Regardless, Germany do sit on top of Group C. So, yeah, we've got that going for us.

Meanwhile, back in Munich...

...the latest round of the acrimonious Javi Martinez saga came to light as Martinez rubbished Spanish reports that he tried to break in to the Athletic Bilbao training ground to retrieve personal belongings.

Whether he hopped a fence or not (I rather hope he did), he still showed his identification badge and was granted entry. Still, the news had me singing James Bond movie themes for the rest of the day. This is all just more sour grapes from Josu Urrutia's Bilbao, and it's not finished yet.

Now, Javi's former club, Osasuna, are claiming they are owed €800,000 from the transfer. Uli Hoeness is claiming Bilbao are responsible for that money. Get out the popcorn, kids! It ain't over yet.

You should follow Susie on Twitter @fussballsusie.

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